Toyota and Audi to Show Self-Driving Cars at CES

10 years, 10 months ago - 9 January 2013, Wall Street Journal
Toyota and Audi to Show Self-Driving Cars at CES
Toyota Motor Corp. and Audi AG are throwing their hats into the ring of potential suppliers of self-driving vehicles.

Both auto makers confirmed on Thursday that they will be demonstrating autonomous-driving features at the Consumer Electronics Show in the coming week, signaling a new effort to raise the technology’s profile among consumers.

In a preview video posted to its website on Thursday, Toyota showed a five-second clip of one of its Lexus brand cars outfitted with various sensors and the caption, “Lexus advanced active safety research vehicle is leading the industry into a new automated era.”

An Audi official also said the luxury-car company will be demonstrating autonomous vehicle capabilities at the Las Vegas show, including a feature that allows a car to find a parking space and park itself without a driver behind the wheel.

Toyota’s prototype vehicle is a Lexus LS 600h fitted with radar and camera equipment that can detect other vehicles, road lane lines and traffic signals, giving the vehicle the ability to navigate streets without a driver. It also includes what appears to be the same roof-mounted laser that Google Inc. has been using on its autonomous research cars. Google began testing self-driving cars in 2009.

While Google uses many Toyota vehicles in its autonomous fleet, the two companies confirmed that Toyota’s technology wasn’t the result of a partnership, and that each firm is developing driving systems independently.

The Japanese auto maker plans to discuss its autonomous car in more detail next week, according to a Toyota official.

Dave Sullivan, an analyst with research firm AutoPacific Inc., said Toyota’s decision in particular to throw its name behind autonomous driving technology will likely spur adoption.

 “To have somebody with the weight of Toyota throwing their weight behind this is impressive,” Mr. Sullivan said. He added that Toyota has already been spotted testing an autonomous vehicle near its Ann Arbor, Mich., engineering campus.